Top 5 Reasons not to miss Handel’s Semele

Baroque Beauty 

First things first, the music is heart-stoppingly, breath-takingly beautiful. Due to the fact that it was a bit controversial (more on that later!), Semele was performed only a handful of times during Handel’s lifetime. It vanished completely until the 20th century, yet it is one of the richest and most compelling of all Handel operas. You may well have heard versions of Jupiter’s stunning aria “Where’er You Walk” or Semele’s “Endless Pleasure, Endless Love” in other contexts – if not have a listen to Hugo Hymas’ gorgeous concert performance version here:

The plot will set your heart racing  

Based on one of the more salacious passages of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, this tale of adultery and revenge amongst the Gods has it all: sibling rivalry, tragedy, comedy, drama, and buckets of passion. In fact, the “baudy” nature of Semele’s story was a little too much for the Covent Garden audience at its premiere in 1744, and left the Prince of Wales of the time “quite out of his good graces!’. Its risqué storyline is one of the reasons why “Handel’s sexiest opera” was suppressed after only a handful of performances… but hands up who wants to go even more now?!

Our incredible cast and creative team 

Semele will feature an exciting cast of young singers (Kelli-Ann Masterson, Jade Phoenix, Andrew Gavin, Dominica Williams, Gerben Van der Werf and Edward Hawkins), the dynamic choral ensemble, Sestina and world-renowned Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin. The creative team behind OCI’s critically acclaimed production of Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses for Kilkenny in 2018 also feature, including Tony award-winning director Patrick Mason and leading baroque conductor Christian Curnyn. 

We’ll take you back in time 

We’re performing Semele with the world-renowned baroque ensemble Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin. Akamus (as they’re known) are one of the world’s leading chamber orchestras playing historically informed music. This means that regardless of whether you love baroque music or are a baroque beginner, you’ll be hearing the music pretty much how Handel wanted it to sound: a musical treat for all ears! 

It’s at Kilkenny Arts Festival 

After two covid-cancellations, we’re so looking forward to joining our partners and co-producers Kilkenny Arts Festival to present Semele. It’s the opening show in the 11-day festival packed with live music, exciting theatre, dance and literary events that will invigorate, intrigue and inspire.

Opera Collective Ireland’s production of Handel’s Semele runs at the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny Arts Festival on 4, 5, 7 August and at Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire on 2, 3 September 2022. 

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